In recent seasons, power has been the theme to the Brock Badgers baseball team. However, this season won’t be exactly the same as the focus shifts towards speed and pitching.
“It is going to be a real different team than last year,” said Brock’s Baseball Head Coach Jeff Lounsbury. “We are going to have a lot of speed and we are very strong in pitching still.”
This approach should not be considered a downgrade for the Badgers, but instead should be looked at as a new approach to play the game. Fans may miss the long ball this season, but any true baseball expert would tell you that pitching and fundamentals, such as speed, win baseball games.
Power was in the heart of the line up in 2012, as Cameron Graham (Sarnia, Ont) and Evan Baglieri (Chippawa, Ont) were a deadly combination as the number three-four hitters.
Baglieri was a pitcher’s nightmare as he led Brock with 7 homeruns, 37 runs batted in (RBI’s) and a .349 average. Graham’s offence numbers were not far off as he produced 3 homeruns, 35 RBI’s and an amazing .476 average.
Losing two offensive threats in the middle of the line-up may be hard to replace, especially if the pitching doesn’t perform to their standard. Despite the loss in the line-up, Coach Lounsbury does not see this as being a problem, but instead sees it as an opportunity for some of the younger players.
“The good news however, out of this is young kids like Ben Kirby and Jordan Grant, who were our shortstop and second baseman last year,” said Lounsbury. “It gives them an opportunity to have another year of maturity.
The young players on the team will definitely have a bigger impact this season than in previous years. Brock was also able to recruit some highly touted prospects, which should really help the pitching and speed.
One recruit that should help the pitching staff is Jeff Baggaley (Whitby, Ont). Baggaley is a highly sought after left-handed pitcher who was a member of the Ontario Terrier U18 program.
A strong left-handed pitcher is always rare to find, so Baggaley should be a great fit to the team. Also, if Baggaley continues to mature and develop, he may prove to be one of the more recognizable pitchers in Ontario University Athletics (OUA).
Another newcomer to Brock this year is Phil Steer (Toronto, Ont). Steer joins the Badgers as a transfer from Mayville State University and should be one of the most exciting players to watch this season.
“Steer can play all three infield positions and can flat out fly,” said coach Lounsbury.
Steer has already achieved success at the collegiate level, being named to the 2012 First Team All-Conference in the Dakota Athletic Conference. Steer brings a new element to the Badgers as his impressive defence and fast speed will be deadly on the diamond this season.
The Badgers continued to improve their pitching staff this off-season as they added right-handed pitcher Kyle Taylor (Ajax, Ont) to the line-up. Taylor joins the Badgers as a transfer student from Genesse Community College in Batavia, New York. Taylor exhibited some great statistics last season as he was mostly used as a relief pitcher. In 35.0 innings pitched, Taylor displayed a 3-1 record with 4 saves, while posting a 2.06 earned run average. Taylor should be a key contributor to the Badgers bullpen if he continues to put up numbers like last season.
Recruits are always important to the success of a university baseball team, however, the returning players will be just as important. The Badgers are lucky enough to have a few returning players who were named OUA Baseball All-Stars last season.
The All-Star pitchers returning to Brock this season include Donny Marchione (Unionville, Ont) and Justin Ayles (Brampton, Ont). Nathan Smith (Brampton, Ont), who was named an All-Star as a rookie last season, also returns to the Badgers and should be a key contributor in the line-up.The new recruits and returning players from last season should make the Badgers a force to be reckoned with once again. Brock is always a candidate to win the OUA Championship and there is no reason for a change this season.
“We are going to be a contender again this year. We are just going to be a different team and it is a matter of how we are going to play the game,” said Lounsbury. “We never rebuild, we reload.”
The upcoming Badgers season will be concentrated on adjustments, but this should not hinder their success. Pitching and speed is tough to find, so if executed to perfection, the Badgers will be a fun team to watch this season.
There are many games to watch for this season as the Badgers look to be atop of the OUA baseball standings once again. The first must-see game to watch for this season takes place on September 21st when the University of Toronto (U of T) Varsity Blues’ come to town.
This game is rather important, as it will be the first time these two will meet at Brock, since U of T beat the Badgers in the OUA Championships last season. The teams will play a double-header that day with games starting at 1:00p.m. and 4:00p.m.
The Badgers home opener this season takes place on September 11 against the Waterloo Warriors. First pitch is at 7:00 p.m. at George Taylor Field.